Unlocking Mobility’s Potential
How to Make Mobility Smarter and Cleaner
Alexander Lewald, Chief Technology Officer, Kapsch TrafficCom AG
By the end of 2015, most national governments had signed and ratified the Paris Agreement, which is designed to limit the effect of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions on global warming. However, continued action is needed to guarantee success. Mobility’s contribution to GHG levels should not be underestimated; the European Environment Agency’s 2016 EU Greenhouse Gas Inventory identified transport as Europe’s single biggest emitter of GHGs.
Without a doubt, hydrocarbon-powered vehicles must become cleaner and more efficient. However, to concentrate solely on vehicles’ tailpipe emissions is over-simplistic. Vehicles burn more fuel when accelerating, and stop-start traffic means more pollution, so we have to make traffic flow more smoothly. We also need to accelerate use of electric-powered vehicles and persuade travellers to vary their habits.
Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) enable us to do this. Emphasising intelligent, connected mobility solutions, ITS use a series of mechanisms, including dynamic pricing and real-time journey information, to make best use of existing capacity across all modes of transport.
Kapsch TrafficCom is a market leader in ITS solutions designed to make our roads, towns and cities cleaner, and to address growth in GHG emissions levels. Its environmentally friendly concepts include:
Intermodal mobility management
People’s reliance upon private transport must be addressed because single- or low-occupancy vehicles chew up road capacity and add incrementally to the carbon burden. Also, for reasons of social inclusion we need to promote the idea that efficient mobility does not require vehicle ownership.
The solution is to have travellers think about using all modes of transport, not just cars. We can make their choices easier by providing very accurate, highly personalised, wireless mobility information services. These provide journey time information and availability, navigation, and easy-to-use online booking and payment facilities. They include walking and cycling, private and public transport, and ride-hailing/sharing.
This is Mobility as a Service (MaaS), and the key to its success is the provision of common platforms providing a single ‘go-to’ place for all apps and services. Kapsch provides both a platform and a series of class-leading MaaS applications.
Intelligent emissions management
Traffic-related pollution blights many of our towns and cities. The cause is a combination of numbers of vehicles and how polluting some are. Reducing overall numbers within defined geographic areas will help, as will use of cleaner powertrains. This has led some cities to introduce congestion charging zones which drivers must pay to enter.
The largest congestion charging schemes — Singapore, London and Stockholm — are the most famous but numerous similar schemes exist elsewhere. In Italy, for instance, many historic town and city centres are protected by congestion charging systems provided by Kapsch.
As well as reducing vehicle numbers, modern congestion charging systems can also create low-emission zones. Working with air quality and other sensors, they address current or developing atmospheric conditions by limiting access for certain vehicle types, or by completely excluding them. These systems are already being successful — pricing strategies designed to promote cleaner vehicles have already caused the disappearance of more polluting classes of heavy goods vehicles from some urban areas, and it is entirely possible to turn our town and city centres into electric vehicle-only zones.
Dynamic price increases for peak-time private vehicle use can be allied with counter-intuitive practices, such as reducing the costs of using public transport, with the aim of increasing overall mobility. The result is an overall improvement in quality of life.
Integrated parking and traffic management
Another way to reduce travel-related emissions is to reduce the levels of pointless travel. If drivers can know when they start their journeys where exactly they are going, we can make major gains in pollution mitigation.
This may seem to be a very obvious statement but a look at driving habits demonstrates how far we are from achieving this — studies have shown that in inner cities 30-40 per cent of traffic is generated by road users searching for parking spaces. The total number of kilometres driven in urban areas is expected to increase to 67.1 billion by 2050. By contrast, this number was approximately 25.8 billion in 2010. Without action, the implications for emissions increases are obvious.
Kapsch provides smart parking solutions which enable drivers to pre-book, or book whilst travelling and be given to-the-space route guidance, dramatically reducing the time, effort and energy associated with parking. Dynamic signage, both on-street and inside parking facilities, can give highly accurate real-time information on space availability, also helping to reduce parking-related emissions.
Integration is key. Real-time analytics, working in concert with air-quality sensors and traffic management and congestion charging systems, can use dynamic pricing strategies to encourage or discourage parking in certain areas at times of greatest environmental risk and help to keep pollution within acceptable limits.
The next step for traffic and mobility management is Cooperative ITS (C-ITS) — which describes a situation in which vehicles will no longer exist in isolation but will become parts of the information eco-system.
Environmentally, this will serve us very well because connected vehicles will be able to provide data gathered by their own sensor systems on local conditions, such as traffic and weather. They will also communicate their statuses and intentions with each other and surrounding infrastructure.
The result will be inherently more intelligent, more efficient traffic management which allows greater capacity to be derived from existing road networks. Traffic flows will be smoother, because vehicles will work in concert with each other and with traffic signals and dynamic speed limits to reduce stop-start traffic and associated emissions. And, by improving the performance of existing road network capacity, we will have to build fewer new lane kilometres, further improving environmental performance.
Automated vehicles will add another level of environmental performance as they will be heavily reliant upon interacting with their surrounding infrastructure in order to navigate safely through our towns and cities. C-ITS will, therefore, become especially important once these become common.
Kapsch has for over a decade been closely involved in the international standards definition effort relating to C-ITS. This ensures a profound understanding of current and future needs and has resulted in a comprehensive product offer designed to support testing and development of C-ITS. The company has also already developed a series of roadside and in-vehicle systems for real-world deployments.
A willing, competent partner
The above innovations, within a relatively small space of time, will transform the state of mobility art. Kapsch TrafficCom is at the forefront of their development and delivery, and stands ready as a provider and partner to help hasten their deployment and so make our communities smarter, cleaner and more efficient.
About the Author:
Alexander Lewald is an executive board member of Kapsch TrafficCom AG and the company’s Chief Technology Officer. He is a big proponent of the use of technology to ensure sustainable living in the urban environment. Mr Lewald holds a degree in electrical engineering from the Technical University of Munich. He did the research for his PhD at the DLR Institute of Robotics and System Dynamics of the German Aerospace Center in the field of system dynamics for multi-axle robots.